Bhubaneswar: Under pressure from tribals,
the Orissa government Sunday said they will reconvene Gram
Sabha meetings in villages as per the norms of the forest land
rights acts and even asked the Centre to stop the practise of
giving phase-wise environment clearance to projects.
This decision was taken at a meeting between state
government officials led by chief secretary T K Mishra and a
team of experts led by National Advisory Council (NAC) member
M C Saxena yesterday after a visit to the proposed bauxite
mining site for Vedanta Aluminium Limited in Niyamgiri Hills.
As the Scheduled Tribe and other Traditional Dwellers
(Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 was not framed when
the state government granted its permission for bauxite mining
in 2004, the government would now hold Gram Sabha meetings in
view of complaints by locals, officials said.
"We have already asked the collectors of Kalahandi and
Rayagada districts to hold fresh Gram Sabha meetings," Chief
Secretary T K Mishra said, adding the government had also
requested Saxena to ask the Centre not to grant phase-wise
clearance to projects.
"You (Centre) give forest and environment clearance to
projects or deny it. There should be no state-I, stage-II
clearance," Mishra told Saxena and his team members while
blaming that due to the practise the state administration face
problems in implementing projects.
Saxena`s team was appointed by the Union Ministry of
Environment and Forest to study the environmental impact of
the proposed mining project at Niyamgiri Hills spread over
Kalahandi and Rayagada districts.
During their three-day field visit, the team studied
the possible impact of the proposed mining project on
environment, forest and tribal population and their life.
Possible impact on the livelihood of the tribals was
also studied by the team, which interacted with different
groups, including people belonging to Kutia Kondh and Dongria
Kondh in the area, officials said.